Sample Essay on Identity and Culture of the African Americans

Identity and Culture of the African Americans


The color line refers to the non-physical barrier created mostly by custom differences to differentiate the nonwhite people from the white people (Nelson 1). The phrase was primarily applied in reference to the racial segregation that prevailed after the termination of slavery. The term ‘color line’ was initially coined to define the rapidly increasing challenge of racial segregation during the reconstruction period in America. The term was formerly applied by Frederick Douglass before being popularized by W.E.B. Du Bois in his renowned book ‘The Souls of the Black Folk’(Du Bois 97). Du Bois affirmed that the major challenge in this last century is the problem of the color line. The study focuses on the identity and culture of the African American. The study argues that the problem of color line is a problem in the 21st century. This argument is based on the statement by W.E.B Du Bois, a scholar, activist and black nationalist, who said that “the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line.” These words ring true today, as the primary issue of the 21st century remains that of race in the country.


At the end of the 19th century, color line was a barrier in the Southern states of America and was legalized by limiting where the blacks could go to in public places (Du Bois 15). At the beginning of the 20th century, ‘colored’ signs confronted the African-Americans wherever they went, as it was an imposed visible mark by the Jim Crow laws. These barriers were also present in the mid-western and eastern regions of the country although they were seldom marked. In over 100 years after racial segregation became a major challenge in America, it is still a thorn in the flesh to a majority of the colored people in America. The Black lash and the achievements of the Civil Rights Movements in the late 1900s has reduced the issue of segregation and racism in the public American domain. Presently, the fight of Du Bois over the issue of color line has become invisible, as the problem is no longer about racism but the interpolation of the problem of racism in the collective national and international consciousness. Without realizing that the present problem is more than just racism, it would be difficult for humanity to face it head on and tackle associated challenges such as poverty, state violence, and segregation in the world. In fact, the presumption of a colorblind society is the basis of the emerging and expansion of the said problems and the reason for augmentation of the problem of the race itself. The perception of color line connects racialism to poverty, under-education, colonization, and violence and examines significant global events from this imperial center. Since the US is the most powerful empire in the world, her influence cannot be undermined in the influence of the international landscape.


The majority of the people may not be willing to admit it; segregation is still practiced by design and at times by choice in America. Unlike the visible practice in the older generations, this new age segregation is enforced overtly in school systems, and prisons, among others. Segregation still permeates the society without our knowledge. From a study conducted in 2012, 43% of the Latinos would prefer to attend schools with at most 10% of the white as their peers (Watson & Robinson Para 2). Segregation influences us individually by permeating into the public and private institutions as well as in the American culture as a whole. The cultural segregation is rarely discussed yet it is an area that we easily control through patronizing specific social joints, and places of worship. It is time to face this reality that even though we live in a diverse world, we tend to invite to our homes and into our lives those people that resemble us, thereby underpinning segregation. People may not be willing to discuss racism for the fear of being perceived racism, yet they easily confide in the limited interracial relations. In addition to this, most of the Americans bear racist feelings without recognizing it (Simien Para 5). This study compares racism to a virus that has mutated into another form yet to be identified.

Tracing back to 1960s when numerous problems were experienced in the education sector in North Carolina (Watson & Robinson Para 4). Many of the school districts dismissed Black teachers due to school desegregation. White teachers were compelled to teach black students, whom they were unfamiliar with. Even though these students once thrived in their academics in the black schools, they faced numerous challenges including performance achievements in their new institutions. The effect of these actions is presently experienced, as at least 80% of the American teachers are whites, who are mostly unfamiliar with varying cultures (Watson & Robinson Para 7). The teachers have biases and limited understanding of the groups outside of the cultures, an aspect that greatly influences the quality of education. It is disheartening that aspects such as instructional style, curricular content, and classroom characters that define culture and ethos fail to integrate divergent student populations. The compounding mismatch severely affects students on public schools and school discipline. To maintain safety, some black students have faced disciplinary sanctions, while others have received suspensions. Racial bias in school discipline forms a component of the institutional racism in education. In these regions, it is estimated that African American boys were three times more suspended than their counterparts on nebulous infractions such as appearing to threaten (Watson & Robinson Para 9). Consequently, a majority of the African American students from the low socioeconomic status perceive bias from the teachers in the disciplinary practices. Due to cultural variation, the majority of the black students have been tracked into special education and disproportion ration in a discipline.

The commencement of any culture is created by personalities who encourage others to be like themselves. The perceived black culture is the summary of the cultural contributions to the mainstream culture by the black subculture and often a contradictory. The actual black culture is a lifestyle standard of assumed black identity used by marketers and music labels to generate money. This is how the world assumes the black, how their lifestyle and actions. It is perceived to have been generated in the black community and mistaken as the cultural experience. This is a devaluation of the actual human experiences. History has rarely presented the African American in their actual identity (Simien Para 8). Facts have been distorted, events either over-presented or under-presented or even excluded. Du Bois in his book tries to rectify a one-sided historiography by integrating numerous approaches. Du Bois de-marginalizes the colored and emphasizes their identity by introducing the black culture and focusing on the psychological challenges of self-identification. Even though marginalized, the African American have arisen in the past and fought the common black and its associated stereotype, which has further barred the people from maximizing their capabilities. Taking the present American President, President Barrack Obama, for instance, is an African American by race and still raised the scale of his career, while ignoring the common stereotype, that Americans can never be ruled by blacks, and became the first Black president America has had. He went on to prove that culture change is possible by being a democrat and an African American to rule the nation. Thus, if African American can embrace their identity and strive to break the common culture, they can redefine the black culture.

Despite the fact that most of the African Americans are black, most of them feel under qualified because they are yet to appreciate their black culture. These people have a deep desire to possess an identity rooted in black culture together with the understanding of what is perceived, as the authenticity black in the popular culture does not reflect their real experience. They are left with no side to lean on since they fail to perceive themselves in the mainstream culture and in the black culture. The African American has been made to believe that the black culture is for the people who have failed to become the best in the society. This is presently experienced in the black hip-hop artists who are molded to call for masses by the ‘white’ label market executives (Simien Para 3). Besides this, most of the television shows characters’ lack black directors and writers. Many are the times when the African Americans have been challenged by people of varying colors in owing up to their black culture where they presumably ought to be rooted in. in addition to this, a culture of all sorts is grounding and comforting since it generates an abode for nourishment and rules in persona understanding. However, to a given point, cultural identity is limiting as it limits a person from growing. For instance, it has been broadly presumed that all black movies should be comedic or an account of a street story to attract an audience. Moving from such outlook can possibly attract audiences from all races.


The color line as a social barrier, which results from custom differences to differentiate the nonwhite people from the white people, is still present in the 21st century. To embrace the black culture and appreciate their identity, the African Americans need to move through and adopt from diverse cultures. This is because it is virtually impossible to define authentically what is black since numerous ways prevail on how to be ‘black and remain a black’. It is a time that the African Americans redefine their culture by capturing the mainstream attention and move from the rapping music and fashion. This is because the definition of being black has been overtly defined and limitedly illustrated. Cultural misinterpretation is an effect of economic and social color line that was created by urbanization and school discipline. In guiding against continual discipline discrimination in students, the education sector ought to synchronize culture to draw and appreciate the divergent heritage and preexisting knowledge.

Works Cited

Du Bois E. B. William. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. (17th Ed). NY: A. C.

McClurg & Company. 1907

Nelson M. Charley. “An Interpretive History of African American Education 1700 to 1950.” The

Color Line. Ohio State University. 2009 Autumn. Pages 1-21

Simien Justin. “5 things to know about Black Culture Now.” CNN. 2014. Retrieved on October


23rd 2016 from>

Watson Marcia & Robinson Derrick. “The 21st Century Color Line:

Assessing the Economic and Social Impact of Urbanization and School Discipline.” UNCC. 2016.